"I came into the unknown and stayed there unknowing rising beyond all science. I did not know the door but when I found the way, unknowing where I was, I learned enormous things, but what I felt I cannot say, for I remained unknowing, rising beyond all science. It was the perfect realm of holiness … Continue reading A poem by St John of the Cross
Stories are fairly foundational to different Christian traditions so I think it’s worth reflecting for a moment on the stories that have been most important to Christian mysticism over the centuries. Stories that are most frequently referenced include Jacob’s ladder, Moses and the burning bush, Moses receiving the ten commandments, the throne visions of Isaiah … Continue reading Stories for Mystics
My practice is focussed on the mysteries of God far more than the secrets of God. What’s the difference? A secret is something knowable, but known to only a few insiders. By way of contrast, a mystery is something that’s simply unknowable. In practice it is like this. Knowing secrets only inflates my ego. Knowing … Continue reading Mysteries versus Secrets
From the Sayings of the Desert Fathers: One day Abba Arsenius consulted an old Egyptian monk about his own thoughts. Someone noticed this and said to him, ‘Abba Arsenius, how is it that you with such a good Latin and Greek education ask this peasant about your thoughts?’ He replied, ‘I have indeed been taught … Continue reading Thoughts which words can’t express
As it is impossible to verbally describe the sweetness of honey to one who has never tasted honey, so the goodness of God cannot be clearly communicated by way of teaching if we ourselves are not able to penetrate into the goodness of the Lord by our own experience. (St. Basil the Great, Conversations on … Continue reading Incommunicable experience
God's Ineffability - What's Reveiled in Jesus' Eyes? Ron Rolheiser God, as I understand him, is not very well understood. A colleague of mine, now deceased, was fond of saying that. It’s a wise comment. Anyone who claims to understand God is deceived because the very first dogma we have about God affirms that God … Continue reading God’s Ineffability – Ron Rolheiser
Eyewitness testimony about Jesus is more authoritative than personal gnosis about Jesus. Later traditions within the church are only authoritative to the extent they rest on the earliest traditions of the church; traditions documented in the writings we know as the New Testament.
Is it really possible to deny God only because everyday experience does not give Him to us? But we know that “everyday experience” is in no way absolute, that it encompasses only some superficial sides of events and phenomena, that plain common sense is limited, and that there are many irrefutable facts which do not … Continue reading Alexei Ospipov on the limits of experience and the knowledge of God
"The limitation of theology and language, let alone of speaking about God, indicates that preaching is not just the verbal proclamation of the gospel in the pulpit but also the need for ritual, living and solidarity. It incorporates these significant elements not in a compartmentalized but in an integrative and holistic whole." Preaching The Gospel … Continue reading Preaching the gospel apophatically
O God, you withdraw from our sight that you may be known by our love. Help us to enter the cloud where you are hidden and surrender all our certainty to the darkness of faith in Jesus Christ. From a Mennonite Hymnal
It is important to recognise the difference between true knowledge and complete knowledge. I know that God loves me truly, but I do not know all there is to know about that. The love of God is unknowable in that sense.
In western Christian art the living God is often associated with light, but a review of the Old Testament reveals a far more complex picture. For the God of Israel and everything else is associated with both darkness and light by the prophets. Here are a few examples that illustrate what I mean. God is … Continue reading YHWH, a God of darkness and mystery as well as light and illumination